Here’s how the book starts
It’s your call
Antarctica. The early 1900’s. The only communication is as far as you can shout.
You and your two companions are nearing the end of a fifteen-hundred-mile trek to a nameless spot on the South Polar Plateau.
To say conditions are harsh would be an understatement. Temperatures can get so low that you risk frostbite even when bundled in your reindeer-hide sleeping bags. The jagged, frozen landscape provides constant challenges, including the danger of crevasses cracking open unexpectedly beneath your feet, plunging you into their depths. At times you have been on the verge of starvation.
Your presence here today is the result of countless decisions great and small made along the way, but right now you are faced with one greater than any that came before. One of your companions has fallen so ill with scurvy he can no longer walk.
Seventy miles of dangerous terrain lie ahead before you reach the safety of your base camp, and you will have to drag him on the sledge, adding an almost unbearable weight to that of your ice-encrusted tent and the last remnants of food keeping you alive.
The reality of the situation is grim. You must maintain a steady pace each day, regardless of the weather, to reach the next depot of supplies before those on hand run out. Your daily distances have fallen off, and continue to fall. The sick man, already perilously near death, is unlikely to survive the remainder of the journey.
With his extra weight further reducing your daily mileage, neither will you and your other companion. You all know the fate that lies ahead. The sick man tells the two of you to leave him here on the Barrier and march on ahead with the sledge and supplies, to save yourselves while you can. The three of you have developed a close camaraderie during your long walk; leaving him to perish on the ice is inconceivable. The obvious, ethical, human decision: to shoulder your burden and do your best.
The situation is not so straightforward. You are seamen and the sick man is your commanding officer. At this specific point, he has commanded you to leave him behind. The one thing that has been repeatedly drilled into you throughout your entire working life is this: there is no occasion on which you can refuse to comply with the order of an officer.
To obey means the two of you have at least a chance at survival; to refuse is mutiny, and certain death for all three of you.
The choice is now yours – it’s your call.
How will you decide?
* * *
This was a real event faced by real people. They did have to make this call. Their decision and the outcome may surprise you. You will find the rest of the story later in this book.
Start of Chapter 1
When your life depends on it.
Start of the next chapter
People make decisions every day, but not like those made by polar explorers in the early 1900s. Yet, there is much that we can learn from their extraordinary stories that can help us make better decisions in our own modern lives.
The early Antarctic explorers were not perfect decision makers. However they were exceptionally good at facing the reality of every situation, taking choices as they arose, and even if they did not make an ideal decision, making the very best of whatever situation they found themselves in.
They set and achieved monumental goals in an extreme environment. They did this while encountering jaw-dropping amounts of adversity and risk which they overcame through teamwork, leadership, and sheer grit and determination. It is the example of these explorers’ methods — pragmatic, simple, and, quite literally, down to earth — that can instruct and guide us in our life and business choices.
Our decisions may not be as world-shaking and dramatic, but using these stories as inspiration, there is much that can be learned from considering their situations and the decisions they made—lessons that can positively influence how we lead our lives today.
* * *
The chapter continues…
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